Rarely has a railroad spur garnered so much attention.
But we’re talking about Track 61, the last rail connection into the South Boston waterfront, a place that once teemed with trains.
With the roads and bridges into the Seaport getting more crowded by the day, the pressure is on to come up with more mass transit options.
Some saw the MBTA’s plan to revive Track 61 as a way to eventually convert it for passenger service, a long-discussed goal. The T made no such promises: The agency instead wants to use the former freight line to test new Red Line cars. Transit fans remained hopeful. The track runs below street level, along a truck bypass road. Easy in, easy out.
Seemed simple at the time. But no construction project in this part of the city is ever simple. The owner of two commercial sites along the line sued, saying the T isn’t entitled to use that land. Nearby Southie residents complained about the potential noise, and the possibility of PCBs in the ground being stirred up.
Now, the two state lawmakers who represent the neighborhood — Nick Collins and Linda Dorcena Forry — are pushing T general manager Luis Ramirez to move the Red Line testing from the Seaport to Cabot Yard and in an industrial area south of that train yard. A spokesman says he expects Ramirez to meet with them after Thanksgiving.
The T has already hired a company to prepare the track. It might be tough to make the switch now. But if that does happen, at least it could free up Track 61 for more transit dreams in the future.